Launceston Hobart Yacht Race 2012 contender and Penfold Audi Sports skipper David Ellis and his crew had to rush things out after their flight was delayed at Melbourne Airport for four hours.
Melbourne yachtsman David Ellis yesterday had the dubious distinction of being the first skipper in the Launceston to Hobart Yacht Race to reach Hobart, the result of the cancellation of a domestic Jetstar flight from Melbourne to Launceston.
The 285 race around Tasmania’s east coast is due to start from Beauty Point on the Tamar River at 11am today with the leading expected to cross the finish line at Castray Esplanade on Saturday.
Ellis and several members of the crew of Penfold Audi Sport, one of the favourites for handicap honours in the race, scheduled to start from Beauty Point at 11am today, were among some 150 passengers stranded at Melbourne airport for four hours.
Instead of catching a 9.45am flight from Melbourne to Launceston and being aboard their yacht at the Tamar Yacht Club by midday, they were unable to fly out of Melbourne until 3pm. And this was on a Qantas flight to Hobart, followed by a three hour bus trip up the Midland Highway to Launceston.
'Fortunately, the boat is just about ready to race, after sailing her across Bass Strait last week,' a rather frustrated Ellis said. 'However, we have to buy some food and pack all the sails in readiness for the race, which starts early at 11 o’clock.
'Well, at the least I was the first skipper to reach Hobart, although not the way I would like to be,' added Ellis, a Port Phillip ship’s pilot who this week has changed from guiding a massive tanker through The Rip to Geelong’s Corio Bay to sailing a 9.5m yacht around the rugged East Coast of Tasmania.
Nevertheless, Ellis is confident his yacht, an Archambault 31, will live up expectations in the record fleet of 35 yachts contesting The Good Guys Launceston to Hobart Yacht Race.
Last year Penfold Audi Sport finished second in the IRC handicap division and has since gone on win its division at the Audi Sydney Harbour Regatta and then perform impressively at Hamilton Island Race Week.
Audi Penfold Sport is one of the Victorian yachts contesting the relatively new Launceston to Hobart Race which has again attracted an excellent fleet of mostly smaller offshore racing yachts.
The Victorian yachts main competition for AMS and IRC handicap honours is expected to come from well-performed Hobarts yachts in the 9 to 11m LOA range, including past overall and division winner’s Footloose (Stewart Geeves), Host Plus Executive), Pisces (David Taylor) and last year’s overall winner Masquerade (Tony Harman).
Masquerade has followed her success in last year’s L2H with some excellent performances in the Hobart combined clubs distance races and along with Penfold Audi Sport must rank favourites to win overall.
Hot favourite for line honours is Gary Smith’s Bakewell-White 45, The Fork in Road, a past line honours winner in this race which has returned after break of two seasons.
The forecast for Bass Strait tomorrow is for 15 to 20 knot nor’easterly winds in the morning, back to the north and north-west later in the day, with the westerlies freshening to 20 to 30 knots on Friday, promising the L2H fleet a fast race to Hobart.